Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1990

M.A.T., Colorado College, 1979

B.A., Colorado State University, 1974

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas




Deborah Coldwell represents franchise and distribution companies – from start-ups with one company-owned location to global brands with more than 10,000 locations. She has litigated for those companies across several industries – from hotels and restaurants to health clubs and tax preparation services to product and service-based franchise and distribution networks. Deb uses this experience and knowledge to represent franchisors, distributors, and the individuals who run those companies in jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations.

Deb will help bring a business solution to a dispute when possible and is skilled in representing clients in mediations and other settlement proceedings. But when litigation is inevitable, she is fully prepared to go to trial or arbitration and to fight for a company and its officers. Last year, she litigated a successful six week jury trial in Texas state court for a franchisor in a joint venture dispute. Nationally-ranked by Chambers USA, (Chambers & Partners, 2009–2015) in the franchise law category, clients describe her as an “outstanding trial lawyer,” “very poised, thoughtful and smart,”and as “an especially good advocate.”

Deb loves to organize and motivate teams to accomplish short and long term goals. To that end, she is the Immediate Past Chair of the 2,000-plus member American Bar Association Forum on Franchising. She also served the Forum as the editor-in-chief of the Franchise Law Journal and as its publications officer. Deb channels her love of sports by litigating sports law-related matters and serving as co-chair of Haynes and Boone’s Sports Law Practice Group.

Prior to attending law school, Deb worked in restaurants and taught junior high and college. Deb’s unique background helps her bring a practical approach to problem solving and allows her to assist clients to find an individual workable strategy in each case she handles. As a skilled and creative trial lawyer, Deb has the experience and flexibility to provide clients with quality representation on a “one-size does not fit all” basis.


Super Lawyers

Haynes and Boone Lawyers Recognized in 2015 Texas Super Lawyers

Texas Super Lawyers has again recognized Haynes and Boone, LLP in its annual award listing, featuring 65 lawyers with seven highlighted in the Tops of Texas rankings.

Published by Thomson Reuters in September 2015


Lawyer of the Year

Best Lawyers

Eight Haynes and Boone Lawyers Receive “2016 Lawyer of the Year” Distinction by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers® has named eight Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers “2016 Lawyer of the Year,” one more than last year.

Published by Woodward/White, Inc., in August 2015

Professional Recognition

  • Selected by Best Lawyers, Woodward/White, Inc., as a "2016 Lawyer of the Year" in Franchise Law, 2016
  • Recognized by Chambers USA, Chambers & Partners, as a nationally recognized franchise lawyer in America (2009-2015)
  • Nominated by her peers as one of the world's leading franchise practitioners in The International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers, Law Business Research Ltd. (2004, 2006, 2007, 2011)
  • Inducted into inaugural Legal Eagles Hall of Fame, Franchise Times, 2013
  • Included as a Legal Eagle (top 100 franchise lawyers) in Franchise Times, Franchise Times Corp., (2004-2015)
  • Selected by her peers in D Magazine, D Magazine Partners, as one of the "Best Women Lawyers in Dallas" (2010), and as one of the top lawyers in franchise and distribution law in Dallas (2003-2015)
  • Selected as a Texas Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, (2003-2015)
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward/White, Inc., for Franchise Law (2007-2016)
  • Selected by Best Lawyers, Woodward/White, Inc., as "2012 Dallas Franchise Law Lawyer of the Year" (2012)
  • Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™

Professional and Community Activities

  • The Grant Halliburton Foundation, Board Member
  • ABA Forum on Franchising, Immediate Past Chair (2015-2017), Chair (2013-2015); Governing Committee Member (2009-2013); Publications Chair (2009-2013); Leadership (2006-2009)
  • ABA Franchise Law Journal, Editor-in-Chief (2006-2009)
  • State Bar of Texas
  • American Bar Association
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • ABA Forum on Franchising Governing Committee
  • Women's Foodservice Forum (Leadership Development Committee)


Deb Coldwell

Deborah Coldwell Receives 12th Legal Eagle Honor from Franchise Times

Deborah Coldwell of Haynes and Boone, LLP has been named a 2015 Legal Eagle by the Franchise Times, marking her 12th consecutive year receiving the award.

Franchise and Distribution

It’s 2015: Do You Know Who Your Employees Are? The NLRB’s New Expanded Joint Employer Standard

On August 27, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued its decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., upending decades of well-settled precedent to establish a new, broad standard for determining when two entities are “joint employers” under the National Labor Relations Act. 362 NLRB 186 (2015). This long-anticipated decision—issued by a three-member majority with two members dissenting—holds that an entity may be a joint employer of another entity’s workers based solely on reserved or indirect control over those workers’ terms of employment, even if that reserved or indirect control is attenuated or never exercised at all. The Board’s new expansive and ambiguous test has significant potential implications for businesses using contracted or outsourced employees, and may have significant implications for franchisors, who are also in the NLRB’s crosshairs in cases like the hotly contested McDonald’s, USA, LLC litigation.

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